UAE law requires moms to breastfeed children for first two years

Feb. 7, 2014 at 2:42 PM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Mothers in the United Arab Emirates must breastfeed their children for the first two years of their lives, legislators in the country have decided.

The provision, added to a children's rights law, has garnered criticism from a government minister and a women's rights group, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Friday.

The law aims to make breastfeeding "a duty and not an option," said Ahmad al-Shamsi, a member of the federal national council that approved the bill.

"Some families leave their children to maids and don't breastfeed," Shamsi said in explaining his support for the law. "This is part of raising a child, though, this is mandatory."

The law could be a "burden" for women, said social affairs minister Mariam al-Roumi, resulting in husbands suing their wives if they do not breastfeed.

Out of the Blues, a group based in Dubai that supports mothers with postpartum depression, warned in an open letter the law could turn mothers into criminals.

"The danger is that with the threat of punishment, these women could face additional stress at an already challenging time, risking serious repercussions and potentially contributing to postnatal depression," the group wrote.

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